Basement Arts is kicking off its winter season with a nontraditional style of theatrical production. Rather than producing a single play with one set of characters and one plot, the first free student performance to grace Studio One this semester consists of two separate one-acts, chosen independently by two student directors.

“Art” & “A Slight Ache”

Tonight through Saturday at 7 p.m., tomorrow at 11 p.m.
Walgreen Drama Center
Free

The evening of one-acts will include “Art” by Yasmina Reza, directed by School of Music, Theatre & Dance sophomore Porscha Kazmierczak and “A Slight Ache” by Harold Pinter, directed by School of MT&D freshman Doron Bloomfield.

The two shows were lumped together for purely logistical purposes by the Basement Board. But “Art” and “A Slight Ache” overcome their drastically different plotlines: “Art” tells the story of three feuding middle-aged best friends and “A Slight Ache” glimpses into a peculiar afternoon of an elderly couple in a dead marriage. The two shows have a number of running parallels thematically and stylistically, creating a surprisingly cohesive arc of theatrical experience for their audience.

“Both shows have three people in them, and both require minimal design elements,” Bloomfield said. “It seems superficial, but it’s actually not. The idea of three people in a context of basically an empty space and seeing how they interact, I think that raises a lot of questions with the audience.”

The connecting thematic elements stem from the two one-acts’ mutual concentration on human relationships.

“I think (both plays) speak to people’s inabilities to communicate and connect,” said Bloomfield. “In ‘A Slight Ache’ (the characters) have this match seller that they are focusing on because they can’t focus on each other, and in ‘Art’ they are looking at this painting and are trying to find meaning in it rather than trying to find meaning in the relationships they have.”

The characters in each show are at different points in their lives and therefore demonstrate different takes on human relationships. “A Slight Ache” has a heavier tone and explores roles in relationships as they relate to death and dying. “Art,” on the other hand, attacks the idea of relationships in a more immediate way, confronting what the meaning of friendship is, what binds people together and why people hold onto friendships as they deteriorate.

Kazmierczak feels that because the two one-acts explore similar thematic subject manner in different ways, they will work well in preparing audiences for the emotional arc of the production.

“Laughter is the best way to open up people for sadness,” Kazmierczak said. “So I think that it’ll be a good experience if my show ends up going first. If (‘Art’) appeals to people’s sense of humor, then they will be ripe and ready to start crying for (‘A Slight Ache’).”

“Art” isn’t purely comical with its weighty themes, but the witty dialogue and eclectic characters arguing with one another are sure to get audiences laughing. According to Kazmierczak, one of the reasons “Art” is funny is that it mirrors our own experiences with friends.

“The second I read it, I recognized every tactic that I ever used in an argument with my friend when trying to get what I want,” Kazmierczak said. “I thought it was really incredible that someone could capture that in these characters.”

This production will also feature some fresh names and faces for Basement Arts, as many students involved with this production are newbies.

LSA senior Emily Heider is participating in her first Basement Arts show as Flora in “A Slight Ache.”

“I definitely think that having both the leads (in ‘A Slight Ache’) as (non-performance majors) will give a fresh perspective,” Heider said. “Because people who typically go to Basement Arts shows would have never seen me before, maybe it will give them a different outlook on the character or even just a different approach to acting.”

Branching out from the nuclear cast and traditional production style, “Art” and “A Slight Ache” have much to give to potential audiences.

“There is never not a reason to see theater,” Kazmierczak said. “It’s never a waste of time, it’s never harmful, it will always add something to your life.”

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